After a long debate at city council (see a photo of councillors looking at the blue Bixi bike), Bixi public bikes are getting so close to being a reality that I can almost feel myself riding around on these elegant, cruising, commuter machines. The final vote at Council was 33-8 as councillors approved the plan provide a loan guarantee of $4.8 million to Bixi so that they can borrow money and roll out 1000 bikes at 80 stations, spaced 300 metres apart across the core.
Is Councillor Adrian Heaps going to try sabotage Bixi Toronto at City Council next week? Given his recent performance at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting, I'm a bit concerned. Does he want a public bike program that could be flourishing by next year, or does he want to delay it a few years just so his favourite company, Astral Media, can run it? And does Astral Media even want it?
The Public Bike proposal passed the first hurdle by getting unanimous support from all councillors on the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. I gave a deputation to the committee on behalf of the Community Bicycle Network (which ran the popular Bikeshare, Toronto's original public bike program) in support of the Bixi Toronto proposal.
The public bike program will be up for approval at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday, April 20th and to City Council on May 11-12 (somewhere on the agenda to be determined).
The bike union and myself are asking you to take action so the public bike program wins support to launch next year and joins the ranks of cities like Montreal, Paris, Boston, London and even Minneapolis.
Vélib’, the very successful public bike program of Paris is in the news again, given their first
second year anniversary. They've survived another year and they've added a lot more bikes onto the street despite some of the unexpected issues with bike theft and damage. The New York Times in A New Fashion Catches On in Paris: Cheap Bicycle Rentals explains how the Vélib’ is becoming a cultural and fashion icon for Paris. Plus Streetfilms has produced a film on Vélib’, updating us on its 1400 stations, 20,000 bikes, and 3 million subscribers. Video below, followed by the New York Times article.
A number of cities are experimenting with "public bikes" or "bike sharing". In Toronto we had our own experiment with CBN's Bikeshare. Last fall, Toronto's city council directed the Chief Planner to investigating a public bike scheme and to look into starting up a pilot project for staff.